HD 3D: No Glasses Required

Technophiles traveling to Amsterdam for the IBC convention may want to
schedule a side trip to the town of Breda, some 60 miles south, to see the
latest in 3D display technology.

At the very least, it provides a good excuse for gambling. That's
because the Holland Casino in Breda is one of the early adopters of WOWvx, a
new high-definition 3D display technology developed by Dutch electronics giant
Philips, using it in its reception area to entice guests with 3D images of
gaming action.

WOWvx is based on lenticular lens technology and advanced
signal-processing incorporated into special Philips 42-inch 1080p high-def
“autostereoscopic” displays (that means no special 3D glasses are
required). WOWvx can be used to show native high-def content modified by
special Philips 3D software. Light is refracted through the lens, and
signal-preprocessing makes a viewer's left and right eyes receive different
images—nine separate images, in fact—in such a way that objects achieve
depth and appear to be leaving the two-dimensional plane of the flat-panel
display and floating in three-dimensional form.

“The 3D effect is caused by a combination of signal processing and the
optical lens on top of the native HD panel,” explains Rob de Vogel, senior
director, business creation, 3D solutions, for Philips Corporate Technologies.
“It's a lenticular system.”

The 3D effect, shown in a demonstration in New York last month, is
rather palpable—powerful enough to make one slightly queasy after sustained
viewing. Golf balls and butterflies jump off the screen. That depth of image,
de Vogel says, was set for point-of-sale applications designed to quickly catch
the attention of passers-by. It could be adjusted to make it more comfortable
for sustained viewing in the living room; Philips has already successfully
tested WOWvx with videogame enthusiasts.

WOWvx is currently being offered by Philips 3D Solutions through
professional resellers in the Asia Pacific, Europe and North America to
business-to-business customers such as Holland Casino for point-of-sale and
marketing applications. In the U.S., the technology is being sold by Richardson
Electronics, which distributes high-end display systems for the
business-to-business market. But Philips plans to make the 3D technology
available in consumer displays within the next two to three years, says Jos
Swillens, CEO of 3D Solutions for Philips Corporate Technologies.

It could be a tough sell. To truly provide a 3D experience, Philips will
also have to find a way to integrate the 3D technology into the existing
broadcast production and transmission chain. Philips is working on it. It has
developed 3D content-creation software and created a high-def file format
called “2D-plus-depth” that is compatible with existing compression

“We can make computer graphics as content and save it as a 3D file,”
says Swillens. “With every pixel, we say where it should be.”

In addition to getting content creators to add the depth information to
television programming, Philips would have to make sure that cable and
satellite set-top boxes were equipped with software that could receive the
“2D-plus-depth” information and pass it along to the WOWvx display for
accurate 3D rendering.

Swillens says that Philips is talking to members of the production
community as well as cable and satellite operators about that possibility.